The jockeying for IMG will shift into a higher gear next week as the second round of bids for the sports agency powerhouse are said to be due by Dec. 13.

The group of contenders for IMG has shrunk in the past few weeks by at least one major player, with private equity giant KKR exiting the auction.

The sale is being closely watched by showbizzers because WME, ICM Partners and Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group are the primary pursuers at present.

IMG parent company Forstmann Little is hoping to fetch upward of $2.5 billion for the IMG’s talent representation and event production assets. But as the due diligence process has unfolded there are rumblings that the bids may come in under that threshold.

WME is teamed with its private equity partner, Silver Lake, in vying for IMG. Chernin Group’s partner in the bidding is London-based CVC Capital Partners. ICM Partners is working with Carlyle Group.

Russian financiers tied to oil giant Gazprom have also been circling the auction, but the seriousness of their interest in IMG has been questioned. CAA and its private equity partner, TPG, were active in the early going for IMG but did not make Forstmann Little’s cut to proceed in the process after initial bids were submitted last month.

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Forstmann Little has told the contenders it hopes to conclude a deal by year’s end.

A rep for IMG declined comment.